A friend shared these two videos with me. He called the double reed instrument a Suona and said that it is traditional both in the Middle East, and central Asia, China and Taiwan. I do not know what name applies to the instrument in the first video.

I noticed that if you play both videos simultaneously (as an experiment only), the timbre, tuning and available notes seem to be almost indistinguishable.

Is this a result of convergence? Why so many aspects of these two sounds sound so similar?


  1. Ajam mukami:
  2. 林口子弟戲文化節】百隻嗩吶齊喧天 恭祝 竹林山寺 觀音佛祖出道紀念日
  3. Ornette Coleman - Buddha Blues "This appears to be Coleman's only recorded use of the suona, a kind of wooden oboe with a distinctive loud and high-pitched sound."

Ajam mukami https://youtu.be/zcbe4k6jfo8

林口子弟戲文化節】百隻嗩吶齊喧天 恭祝 竹林山寺 觀音佛祖出道紀念日 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT9wDKR54Dg

1 Answer 1


It could be said that it is the same family of wind instruments (aerophone). Suona is considered an international instrument played in more than 30 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. It is called Shanai in India, other denominations are Shenai or Rhaita, in wikipedia you can find many more denominations:




Suona (China) enter image description here

Shenai (India)


Rhaita (Africa)

enter image description here

  • Thanks for your answer. I've asked specifically about the use in the middle east vs China, and why they are tuned the same and use the same scales. What would be a name for the instrument shown in the first video?
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 9:48
  • 1
    The scales you can find in any book of scales (did not give the impression that you ask about that), regarding the name I comment again that depending on what region is called different but is the same instrument, an african would always call it rhaita or mizmar. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 9:58
  • The "tuning and available notes" seem to be identical.
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 10:10
  • 1
    Surely you and I call this instrument violin upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9f/Stainer.jpg/…. The flute has more variations i.ytimg.com/vi/4k-t85tGe2c/maxresdefault.jpg. but in spite of the variations we recognize the instrument like flute. And in the end, with low standardization depending on the region we can find traditional instruments with small but enriching variations. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 10:24
  • 1
    Actually, the tuning and available notes don't seem identical to me. The first video was a mixolydian scale, with a flat third in the second octave, and the second was a pentatonic piece, with the seventh played occasionally and raised, not lowered. There are only so many scales you can reasonably play on a wind instrument with seven or eight fingerholes, so it's not surprising if they sound similar. And as said here, they are related instruments and almost certainly share a common history, along with the shawm and oboe, which came to Europe via the Moors, who probably got it in Asia. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 19:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.